Introduction: Successful completion of continuing medical education (CME) activities is often required for ongoing physician board certification, licensure, and hospital privileges. CME activities are designed to address professional knowledge or practice gaps. The authors examined participants' "intent to change" after CME activities to evaluate whether CME activity content was suitably linked with the stated learning objectives.
Methods: The authors performed a retrospective mixed-methods thematic content analysis of written and electronic records from American Association of Neurological Surgeons-sponsored CME activities. Data from 2011 through 2016 were analyzed using a quantitative, deductive content analysis approach. Data were examined for each year separately as well as longitudinally over the six consecutive years. Intent-to-change data that did not align with meeting objectives were analyzed inductively using a qualitative content analysis approach to explore potential unintended learning themes.
Results: The authors examined 85 American Association of Neurological Surgeons CME activities (424 CME objectives). The objectives were compared with 1950 intent-to-change statements. Thematic patterns of recurrent intent-to-change statements that matched with CME objectives included topics of resident education, complication avoidance, clinical best practices and evidence, new innovations, and novel surgical techniques. Just over a third of intent-to-change statements (37.3%) were not related to any meeting objective. Approximately a quarter of these unmatched statements led to new learning objectives in subsequent years.
Conclusions: An examination of CME learning objectives and participant intent-to-change statements provides information for examination of both meeting planner and learner attitudes for future CME activity planning.
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